In September 1944 I received orders to report to the US Naval Supply Base in Scotia, New York. When I arrived it was snowing (in September!) Moving from southern Louisiana in August at 108 degrees to Scotia, New York in the snow, was a shock to the system. I was put in charge of 20 ladies who were data clerks, keeping track of supplies coming in and going out of the supply depot. My quarters were in a long barracks with about 100 Marines just back from the war in the Pacific. I was the only “Swabbie” in there, but they accepted me. That was good, because they drank a lot, and several nights each week they would get into a regular brawl. Whenever I would hear several of them arguing and cussing each other, I would take a walk. Our barracks sat right on the bank of the Erie Canal (Mohawk River).
In November of 1944 I was transferred to the Harvard Business School in Boston, Ma. That was where the Navy had their Officer Candidate School for Navy Supply Officers.
It was COLD up there. I wrote to my Grandfather to send me two sets of long handles. As soon as they came I put them on and the only time I took them off was to change. I even slept in them. Even after all that, I was cold when I got there, cold all the time I was there, and cold when I left! I remember walking back from the subway station across the Charles River and there would be icicles hanging down from the bill of my cap.
I had a great friend, Jim Hibbard from Minneapolis, who was about two inches too short to pass the final physical. He worried about that the whole time we were in OCS. A day and a half before the final physical, we had Jim stay in bed all day and all night. We even took him meals from the mess hall. The morning of the physical, four of us picked Jim out of his bed and carried him over to the medics so he would not be walking. We laid him out on a table and two of us got on his shoulders and two on his feet and we pulled on him as hard as we could. Jim was howling in pain but we kept on. When they called his name, we carried him to the door where he took about two steps to the scale. They measured Jim and would you believe, he just barely made the cut. Boy, was he happy.
I had my own problems because of my near sightedness. Earlier I had slipped over to the dispensary where they gave the eye test and I wrote down the letters from the chart. I memorized them frontwards, backwards and diagonally. When I went in for my eye test the corpsman said, “Read the first line.” No problem. Then he said cover the other eye and “Read the first line again.” In a way I was disappointed because I was loaded for bear and all I had to do was shoot a mouse. I passed without a problem and so did my shipmates.
Photo of Erie Canal found here.
Photo of Charles River at Harvard found here.